• foxmatt77

Is Kevin De Bruyne still in City's best 11?

It's a question that feels ridiculous to ask. Kevin De Bruyne has taken home two consecutive PFA Player of the Year awards the last two seasons, he's provided 108 assists and scored 70 himself in 278 appearances for Manchester City, and he's consistently been the main man in City's team since Pep Guardiola took in 2016/17.


Yet, the Belgian playmaker has struggled to find his best form this season since picking up an ankle injury at Euro 2020. De Bruyne's lack of form, coupled with the brilliant performances of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, has given Guardiola a massive selection headache.


Bernardo Silva has yet to put a foot wrong this season. The Portuguese midfielder was linked to a move away the entire transfer window. He's responded to not getting his desired move away by turning in his best season in a City shirt yet. Silva's form has been so impeccable that Guardiola has said that he believes Silva is the best player in the Premier League at the moment.


Meanwhile, Gundogan has very quietly been brilliant for long stretches this season as well. For a long period of time Gundogan always left fans wanting a bit more from his performances. If for no other reason, because he wasn't quite as good as David Silva or De Bruyne, a ridiculously high standard to achieve.


Going back to last season, when De Bruyne missed time due to a hamstring injury, Gundogan has shown himself an adept finisher inside the penalty area. His ghostly, late runs into the box almost never draw a defender until it is too late.

With Silva and Gundogan in such good form, and with City churning out three point results week after week, it's difficult to see where, or how, De Bruyne gets back into the team at the moment.


Moving Silva into the false 9 position is probably the easiest way to accommodate him. Yet, does it make sense to move Silva out of a position that he has been excelling in so far this season?


Perhaps De Bruyne can the latest player to be deployed as a false 9. Jack Grealish has had some promising moments playing up top, but hasn't exactly made the position his own in recent weeks. Yet, it's fair to question if De Bruyne's play style is best utilized that high up the pitch.


De Bruyne's playing style has actually been part of the problem so far this season. When fully fit and firing, he can slice defenses wide open with inch perfect passes that cut out four or more defenders with a single swing of his foot.


Too often this season though, the weighting of De Bruyne's incisive, line splitting passes has been far from perfect. Instead of leading to a clear cut goal scoring opportunity, they have most often led to a cheap turnover in possession.


Both City fans and Guardiola will hope that De Bruyne can once again find his best form in the coming weeks. If he can, it might just be impossible to deny City their second consecutive Premier League Title.


If he can't?


Well, than De Bruyne might have to get used to watching matches from the bench.